Robots operating on humans has passed from science fiction movies to science fact operating rooms. Now according to Fox News, in a medical first, surgeons have used a robot to operate inside the human eye. Will human medical students be joining up with robotic humanoids at your hospital bed to offer you medical advice…and will you approve their suggestions?
It may seem a bit uncanny and even slightly troubling to have a robot operating on one of the most sensitive parts of the human body, where one slip of the surgical instrument could mean permanent blindness. But, All About Circuits reported that at Oxford’s John Radcliff Hospital a cutting-edge robotic surgical machine—the Preceyes, performed the world’s first robotic eye surgery last year which restored the vision of British priest, Bill Beaver.
The highly delicate surgery removed fine membrane growth on the priest’s retina and without the extreme accuracy displayed by the robotic machine, there was the dire possibility that a skilled surgeon may have still cut too deeply. This could have resulted in some hemorrhaging, scarring, potentially led to additional forms of visual impairment.
Researchers ran a trial, at the hospital where surgeons performed the membrane-removal surgery on 12 patients; six of those patients underwent the traditional procedure, and six underwent the new robotic technique, according Fox News. Those patients in the robot group experienced significantly fewer hemorrhages and less damage to the retina.
The success of the robot assisted surgeries is further proof that robotic humanoids may be far more present in hospital operating suites and possibly providing outpatient care in the near future.
Dr. Robert E. MacLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who led the study team concurs that robot assisted surgeries is the future. He emphasized, the technique represents “a vision of eye surgery in the future.” Dr. MacLaren is presenting his study’s results this week at the Baltimore annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
For one to appreciate the very delicate nature of this intricate surgery Maclaren’s commented, “The surgery is very intricate. The membrane is only about 10 microns thick, or about a tenth the width of a human hair, and it needs to be dissected from the retina without damaging the retina … all while the eye of the anesthetized patient is jiggling with each heartbeat,” reported Fox News.